Welcome to the 19th edition of my weekly NHL Power Rankings for The Hockey Writers, where the league’s top half is evaluated. These rankings will focus on how teams have performed in the past week of play and will significantly factor in their overall strength and where they are at the time in the standings. With that said, here’s a look at the top 16 teams in the league at this moment.
16. Nashville Predators (31-20-4)
Last Week’s Rank: NA
The Predators opened their week with a very frustrating loss to the Seattle Kraken, and continued their recent stretch of poor play. They were however able to not only pick up a win in their next game against the San Jose Sharks but did so very decisively with an 8-0 final.
There have been rumors lately that Filip Forsberg could be traded ahead of the deadline, which seems somewhat odd given that the Predators are in a playoff spot. However, general manager David Poile could be considering the option due to the fact his team hasn’t been great as of late. Perhaps their win over the Sharks will get them going.
15. Minnesota Wild (32-19-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 10
The Wild are in a massive rut right now. After losses to the Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars, they have fallen to just 2-8-0 over their past 10 games and are at risk of being knocked into fourth place in the Central Division.
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Goaltending has been a huge problem as of late, as they have given up 53 goals over their last 11 games. They desperately need one of Cam Talbot or Kaapo Kahkonen to elevate their play, and soon.
14. Washington Capitals (30-18-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 16
The struggles of the Capitals have been well documented lately, as they sit well outside of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division. The good news for them is that there are no teams close to taking them out of the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference, and they were able to pick up wins in two of their three games this past week.
With players like T.J. Oshie, Anthony Mantha and Vitek Vanecek all recently returning from injury, this team may be poised to go on a big run here. With Alex Ovechkin continuing to light it up with 31 goals and 68 points in 55 games, this team shouldn’t be taken lightly by anybody.
13. L.A. Kings (31-19-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 12
The week started off poorly for the Kings, as they were hammered 7-0 by the Boston Bruins on Monday night. They then lost their next game to the surging Dallas Stars but were able to win their final two contests against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres.
This team continues to surprise this season, as they currently sit second in the Pacific Division with 69 points. They have had several players step up this season, one in particular being Viktor Arvidsson who is excelling in his first year as a King with 38 points in 50 games.
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-16-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 11
While they continue to be an elite team offensively, there have been holes on this Maple Leafs roster that have been getting exposed lately. They dropped two of their three games this past week and have given up 21 goals over their past four games.
After a brilliant start to the season, Jack Campbell has been in a giant funk for some time, giving up four or more goals in nine of his past 15 starts. If they have any hope of going on a deep playoff run this year, they will need either him or Petr Mrazek to pick up their play.
11. Vegas Golden Knights (31-21-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Injuries and inconsistencies have led to a somewhat disappointing season to this point for the Vegas Golden Knights, but this past week may be the start of them turning things around. They were able to win three of the four games on their schedule, though they came against relatively weak teams in the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators.
As mentioned, injuries have plagued the Golden Knights all season long, and they are currently without some very key players in Alec Martinez, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty. If they are ever able to get fully healthy, they should get back to playing like Stanley Cup contenders which most expected them to be.
10. Dallas Stars (32-20-3)
Last Week’s Rank: 14
The Dallas Stars are heating up as of late, and are currently on a league-best four-game winning streak. With their great play as of late, they have managed to find their way into a playoff spot, as they currently occupy the top wild-card position in the Western Conference.
Their undoubted MVP this season has been Jason Robertson, who has been even better this season than he was as a rookie in 2020-21. The 22-year-old has 29 goals and 54 points in 47 games and has recorded hat tricks in each of the Stars’ past two games.
9. St. Louis Blues (32-16-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
After having played some of their best hockey as of late, the St. Louis Blues really struggled this past week, losing all three of the games on their schedule. Not only were they unable to win any of the three, but two of the losses came against teams they should be beating in the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
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Despite the down week, however, there are some positives to build off of, the biggest being the recent improvement of Jordan Binnington. After having struggled in recent months, he has put together three straight quality starts including a shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks back on Feb. 27.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-14-9)
Last Week’s Rank: 7
It was a relatively quiet week for the Penguins, as they only had two games on their schedule, but they were extremely difficult ones. They were able to pick up a win on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning but fell in overtime the next night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
While you never want to lose games, it was impressive in its own right that they were able to take an elite team like the Hurricanes to overtime on the second half of a back-to-back. This team has really been clicking the past few months, and Evgeni Malkin in particular appears to be finding his stride after missing time with injury, as he has 24 points through 21 games.
7. Boston Bruins (34-18-4)
Last Week’s Rank: 9
After inconsistent play early on in the season, the Boston Bruins are firing on all cylinders right now. Despite losing to the Ducks on Tuesday, they were able to pick up wins over the Kings, Golden Knights and Blue Jackets.
Less than two months after being sent to the American Hockey League (AHL), Jeremy Swayman has become this team’s number one goaltender and is beginning to enter the Calder Trophy conversation. Through 26 games he has put up a 2.03 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .927 save percentage (SV%).
6. Calgary Flames (33-14-7)
Last Week’s Rank: 4
The Flames have been playing incredible hockey as of late, and are beginning to run away with first place in the Pacific. However, a frustrating loss to the Montreal Canadiens has resulted in them slipping slightly in this week’s ranking.
Despite the lower ranking, this team remains a serious threat out of the Western Conference. In net, Jacob Markstrom continues to play at an elite level, while Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm are all having outstanding offensive seasons.
5. New York Rangers (36-15-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 8
This past week was a very successful one for the Rangers, who won all three of the games they had on their schedule. While two came against weaker rosters in the Devils and Winnipeg Jets, they were able to pick up a big win on Wednesday against a highly-skilled Blues squad.
The player who is getting all the talk, and rightfully so, is Igor Shesterkin. The 26-year-old netminder is the front-runner for not only the Vezina Trophy but the Hart as well, as he owns a spectacular 1.93 GAA along with a .942 SV%.
4. Florida Panthers (37-13-5)
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
The Panthers entered this week on a three-game losing streak but were able to turn things around with wins over the Senators and Detroit Red Wings. They should continue to pile up the points next week too as two of their next three games come against the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.
There has been plenty of chatter lately as to whether or not Jonathan Huberdeau is deserving of being a Hart Trophy finalist, but regardless of what happens, the Panthers know just how valuable to their team he is. Through 55 games this season he has 76 points, which fall short of only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the league lead.
3. Colorado Avalanche (40-11-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 3
It was a bit of a rocky week for the Colorado Avalanche, who were able to pick up points in two of their three games but lost to the lowly Arizona Coyotes as well as the Flames. Despite losing two of three, however, they still lead the NHL with 85 points.
Though he was pulled in his most recent start versus the Flames, Darcy Kuemper has really gotten on track after a slow start to the season. Through 39 games, he has a solid 2.53 GAA and .918 SV%. Those numbers should continue to improve for the remainder of the season.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (37-12-6)
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Though the Lightning won three of their four games this past week, those wins came against beatable teams in the Senators, Red Wings and Blackhawks. In their only real challenge of the week against the Penguins, they fell by a 5-1 final.
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While winning three straight Stanley Cups is a near-impossible feat, this team may just be good enough to do it. They are getting big contributions from all of their superstar talents and should be expected to go on another long playoff run.
1. Carolina Hurricanes (39-12-5)
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Despite losing their first two games of the week, the Hurricanes were able to respond in the second half of a back-to-back with a big 3-2 win over the Penguins. They then capped off their week with a 3-2 win over the Kraken on Sunday.
The Hurricanes have been clicking all season long and have all the makings of a Stanley Cup-winning team. One situation to monitor however is the health of goaltender Frederik Andersen, who was unable to suit up for Sunday’s game with an undisclosed ailment. The good news, however, is that as of now it sounds like it is just a day-to-day situation.
Changes to Come
These rankings will continue to change each week throughout the season, as all teams go through highs and lows. Of course, the true contenders will always remain on the list, but where they are ranked could change each and every week. Tune in at this time next week to see the changes.